February 7, 2015

"NBC executives were warned a year ago that Brian Williams was constantly inflating his biography."

"They were flummoxed over why the leading network anchor felt that he needed Hemingwayesque, bullets-whizzing-by flourishes to puff himself up, sometimes to the point where it was a joke in the news division."

Some surprising background, from Maureen Dowd.

By contrast, I'm utterly uninterested in the news that Williams is stepping away from his job for a few days.

"There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life..."

".. for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies. So do they recognize as friends those who are suited to philosophy, and receive them kindly, while those unfitted they drive away, like dogs, by barking at them."

Just when the eyes trained on Bruce Jenner were turning gooey and oh-so-sympathetic...

... he's gone and killed a woman.
Eyewitnesses say Bruce rear ended the white car and that car went into oncoming traffic and was struck by the Hummer.... The woman driving the white car died.
At the link: photos of the impassive face of the athlete/reality TV star/transgender icon alongside the horrifically wrecked car.

Is this, too, grist for reality television?

"the thing that gets me is why anyone would allow the NYT to report on their search for the perfect airy 1.5 million dollar Wburg 1-bedroom"

"wouldn't it be simpler to just march down the street handing out pamphlets that say 'I'm terrible, AMA'"

"The prohibition on physician‑assisted dying infringes the right to life, liberty and security of the person in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

"The object of the prohibition is not, broadly, to preserve life whatever the circumstances, but more specifically to protect vulnerable persons from being induced to commit suicide at a time of weakness. Since a total ban on assisted suicide clearly helps achieve this object, individuals’ rights are not deprived arbitrarily. However, the prohibition catches people outside the class of protected persons. It follows that the limitation on their rights is in at least some cases not connected to the objective and that the prohibition is thus overbroad."

Says the Supreme Court of Canada, unanimously.

"The full house was made up largely of upper-middle-class young ladies, stylishly dressed, carefully made up, brought into town by private cars or suburban buses..."

"... for their night to howl, to let go, scream, bump, twist and clutch themselves ecstatically out there in the floodlights for everyone to see; and with the full blessings of all Authority: indulgent parents, profiteering businessmen, gleeful national media, even the police.... The spectacle of all those anguished young girls at Carnegie Hall, trying to follow 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,' seems awfully vapid compared to the young men and women who sing 'I Woke Up This Mornin’ With My Mind (…Stayed on Freedom).' The Beatles themselves are lively and not without charm. Perhaps their greatest virtue is their sense of humor and self-caricature. But Beatlemania as a phenomenon is manna for dull minds."

Such was the opinion in The Nation magazine in March 1964.

Podcasting gets results.

"The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has granted an appeal for Adnan Syed, the man whose murder conviction was investigated on the popular 'Serial' podcast."

"I believe Gov. Walker would prefer if this became another red vs. blue fight because polarization will make him look strong in Iowa, and polarized fights are fights he knows he can win."

"If he didn't want protests, why else would he actively talk about getting rid of shared governance; why else would his staff attempt to remove the Wisconsin Idea from the UW's mission? Both of those are throwing gasoline on a fire, an attempt to stop Democrats and Republicans from talking because talking just might lead to a better solution."

Paranoia strikes deep.

"Althouse can analyze anything, anything, for untested assumptions and bullshit."

Said commenter John Lynch, after reading my analysis of the Katy Perry video "Roar."

Bob Dylan says thanks.

At the MusiCares Person of the Year event:
He thanked people who had played a key role in his early career, ranging from talent scout John Hammond to music publisher Lou Levy, as well as artists who recorded his songs early on, such as Peter, Paul & Mary. “They took a song of mine that was buried,” he said, alluding to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” “They straightened it out. It’s not the way I would have recorded it (but they made it a smash).”

He also thanked the Byrds, the Turtles, and Sonny & Cher. “Their versions of my songs were like commercials,” he said. He also singled out the Staple Singers, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, and Joan Baez. (“She was the queen of folk music then, and she’s the queen of folk music now,” he said of Baez. “…I learned a lot from her.”)

Dylan says "Sonny & Cher," but if you look closely at that video, you'll see Cher is singing the "Sonny" voice too.

ADDED: More from Bob's speech here.  Don't miss the part about Tom T. Hall's song "I Love" being "a little over-cooked." As for what he said about Merle Haggard, well, Merle Haggard responds here: "Bob Dylan I've admired your songs since 1964. 'Don't Think Twice' Bob, Willie and I just recorded it on our new album."

Grill'n for Peace.

We went out this morning for a round of ice skating on the Wingra lagoon, and as we drove up we saw people out on Lake Wingra in some kind of circular formation from which plumes of smoke arose. Some kind of ice barbeque? A winter tailgate party? I called it "ice-gating" — pronounced almost exactly like "ice skating." After our ice skating, we drove by and I took a few pictures.


We saw the signs: "Grill 4 ." Here's the website for the event. "The fun: create a giant peace sign using 'old school' Weber grills on frozen Lake Wingra. While in this awesome formation, we will grill meats, enjoy friends and have fun in the great outdoors."

"People say I should appreciate my inheritance, and I do, but it is an inheritance without love," says the granddaughter of Pablo Picasso, Marina.

She has 10,000 works of Picasso art, and she's about to sell them off, one by one, to turn them into money "to redistribute to humanitarian causes." The first work she will sell is "a 1935 work called La Famille which depicts a family in an arid landscape."
“It’s symbolic because I was born in a great family, but it was a family that was not a family,” she said.

That is possibly an understatement of her true feelings. In her 2001 memoir, Picasso: My Grandfather, she describes a man who was “incapable of love”. How her father died two years after the artist under the “yoke of his tyranny … betrayed, disappointed, demeaned. Destroyed.” And the tragedy of her brother, Pablito, “the plaything of Picasso’s sadism and indifference”, who later killed himself. She also wrote disparagingly of the people who granted him power and “raised him to the level of God: the experts, art historians, curators, critics, not to mention courtiers, parasites, bootlickers."
The author of the books "Art as an Investment," Melanie Gerlis, commented on the effect Marina's sales might have on the market: "I don’t think auctions and dealers are going to say this is a disaster, it won’t take a ton of business away from them, they may see it as just a shame."

There are different kinds of shame.

Old pictures: "Casual T-ease."

Casual T-ease

This is another one of my scans of photographs I took in 1980/81 of the plastered-over walls in or around SoHo in NYC.

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"But Lublin hated 'everything [about law school] from nine-point font in thick textbooks to the Socratic method to classmates who were really..."

"...just fighting for the right to be on law review, which was looking up your professor’s footnotes for an article that was going to appear in a journal that maybe twelve people would read."

From a New Yorker article by Alice Gregory titled "R U There?/A new counselling service harnesses the power of the text message." Lublin is Nancy Lublin, who dropped out of NYU School of Law after 4 semesters and who is involved in a crisis hotline that communicates with teenagers solely through the medium of texting.

The whole article is interesting, but I wanted to pull that quote because I knew the words "a journal that maybe twelve people would read" would cause heartache to the smug and I'm cruel like that.

Hey, everybody! Let's have shaming culture. Because shame works.

Gizmodo: "The Anti-Vaccine Movement Should Be Ridiculed, Because Shame Works."

So... because it works, we should do it? Forcibly vaccinating all the children would work too. It would work better, in fact. So why the enthusiasm for shame... and where would it stop? The Gizmodo writer falls all over himself by the end of the column:
Let me be clear that I'm not advocating that individuals on street corners be shamed for not vaccinating their kids.... I'm arguing that we need to do something much more radical and difficult: we need to support a culture that shames its members for not vaccinating their kids — and by extension, for endangering their communities.
So shame, but only from a distance? No one should individually feel it? This seems like a recommendation of precision generality.
But changing our culture means taking aim at the powerful and those profiting from the anti-vaccination movement. 
Yeah, let's be sure only to hurt the big bad corporations. Make that happen. Why would shame work on the profit-makers? That's where shame doesn't work.
We also must also [sic] draw a distinction between shame and humiliation... I don't want to advocate humiliating or bullying individuals. Shame is about regulating social norms, not screaming at powerless people on Twitter.
It's absurd to think you could get a shame culture rolling and then make sure it doesn't do any of the bad things you can already foresee!

HuffPo is breathless: "Madonna's 'Living For Love' Video Is The Singer's Best Work In A Decade."

Well, I don't know about that. I watched it...

... I mean, I watched about half of it. And I was trying, forcing myself to put up with it. But I did want to say that I got an important message from this video: That thing of putting a lot of bobby pins in your hair is — if Madonna has her way — back... back with a vengeance. Put bobby pins all over your head, not just to hold the hair back or down, not even just as if they were decorative, but as the perfect expression of your having lost your mind. Bobby pins will not hold your brain, like your hair, in place, but you will look like you are in need of some devices that could bring some order to the head under the hair.

Raping the man... on "Shameless."

I've been catching up with the TV show "Shameless" and just finished Season 1 last night. There are 3 more seasons, which I intend to watch soon. Please, no spoilers about those later seasons.

I've had things to say about the various episodes in Season 1, which I've posted over at Metafilter's FanFare. At Metafilter, I post under the screen name "Alizaria." My son John, who posts under his real name, writes front-page recaps that set up the space for commenting. I wanted to post over here, in part to let you know that this is a show I'm in the middle of watching and to invite you to watch along with me (and maybe talk about it over at FanFare, where there are posts for all the episodes), but mostly because rape is an ongoing topic on this blog, and the subtopic of women raping men has come up from time to time.

If you are interested in this topic, you might want to read what I have to say in the comments to the Season 1 finale "Father Frank, Full of Grace." Obviously, there are spoilers at that link and in the indented quote below. I'll just say that a male character is raped, with clear evidence of rape.
[Frank] was yelling "no," he was incapacitated by drugs, and Karen was physically pinning him down....

Are we supposed to think this is all very funny because the victim is a man or is the show challenging us to notice? I notice!
ADDED: No spoilers beyond season 1.

"NYTimes Edit Board ruthlessly attacks some guy named 'Mr. Scott' who they claim is the governor of Wisconsin."

"No, but he’s a damn fine starship engineer, I don’t care what the Timesmen say."

Hilarious screwup. And it's all the more hilarious because the subject of the editorial is doubt about Governor Scott Walker's use of the expression "drafting error" to explain a proposed change in the statutory law about the mission of the University of Wisconsin System.

So was that really, truly a drafting error by The New York Times, or was this behind-the-scene mockery that accidentally got published, "Mush from the Wimp"-style?

Here in Wisconsin, Walker-haters have often called the man "Scottie." Here's an example in some video Meade shot during the protests of 2011: "Koch Brothers" (in top hats) manipulating their puppet Walker and saying "Come along, Scottie!"

The New York Times has "brazenly deleted" its use of the moniker "Mr. Scott," and if confronted, I supposed it would say it was a "drafting error." If so, we could get all derisive and contemptuous and call the "excuse" "ridiculous" and the original draft "pernicious" in precise emulation of the NYT editorial.

Here's my post from a couple days ago on the underlying substance of this controversy: "Why did Scott Walker attack the University of Wisconsin's century-old 'Wisconsin Idea' slogan/mission?" I don't know whether Scott Walker and his people intended to delete some statutory verbiage because they recognized it to be "The Wisconsin Idea" and they oppose that idea or because it just looked like meaningless blabber. Here's a photograph showing the editing that seems to mean so much to Walker's antagonists.

(Click to enlarge.)

To my eye, it looks like the changes were, first, to augment the mission to include meeting the state's "workforce needs" and then to eliminate what the editor thought was excess verbiage. Note that The Wisconsin Idea is still there in the first sentence in the words "to... discover and disseminate knowlege... beyond the boundaries of its campuses."

The Times editorial ends with some perseveration about "red meat for conservative zealots," but come on. If that editing counts as red meat for conservative zealots, this outrage over word editing is a big bloody slab of red meat for liberal zealots.

AND: I'm frontpaging something I said in the comments:
As with the Wisconsin protests, we're seeing an effort to make people think they must be enraged at this monster Walker.

I backfired in 2011 and in 2012 and in 2014. Maybe it seems new to some people outside of Wisconsin, but it's so stupid and boring to me.

And this is especially stupid, because look at the words that people are throwing a fit about. Do they really think the American people are going to understand this tempest in a teapot? First, you have to internalize the devotion to something called The Wisconsin Idea (which I suspect will read as banal and obvious to people in other states: Why is that something special about Wisconsin as opposed to what all universities try to do?). Second, you have to believe that the change in the language was anything other than weeding out some verbose obviousness. Third, you have to think that the University's mission statement needs to appear in the statute... and not just appear, but appear repetitiously.

Who would go there? It makes absolutely no sense.
MORE: The editorial reads as though some local Wisconsin hothead spewed it out for them. Maybe the original referred to Walker by his first name and the minimal editing inserted the "Mr.," because that's a longstanding NYT convention and some mindless functionary was tending to the superficial task. That is, no fact-checking was going on and Scott looks like a last name. There actually is a Governor Scott in the U.S. right now (in Florida).

February 6, 2015

"He said if he had to do it all over again, he would have probably picked a different time."

"He said his last drink kind of gave him that urge, that oomph.”

"I have yet to meet an American who doesn’t dread the awkward silence."

"A lull in any conversation is to be avoided at all costs—even if it means talking about the latest viral cat video or celebrity breakup. The Finns I’ve met, on the other hand, embrace the awkward silence. They understand that it’s a part of the natural rhythm of human interaction. Sure, Finns know how to have conversations, but they’re not driven by a compulsion to fill time and space with needless chatter."

From "5 Bad American Habits I Kicked in Finland." #1 is "I don’t fear awkward silences."

"In the popular imagination, Men's Rights Activists are 'neckbeards'..."

"... morbidly obese basement-dwellers with a suspect affection for My Little Pony. But Max is remarkably unassuming in appearance, handsome enough and normally tall; equally imaginable in board shorts and a snapback as he is in the sort of graduation suit one wears to a first post-collegiate interview downtown."

Vox explains what internet men's rights men are really like.

"Who knows what impact incoming fire will have on Brian Williams’s career."

Says Ken Auletta in The New Yorker (where the punctuation is presumably punctilious, but that's a question without a question mark).
Yet this much is clear: ​journalists are supposed to be more transparent than the politicians we cover. We’re unpopular, in part, because we don’t practice the transparency we preach. Brian Williams believes that journalism is a noble calling, and he has often honored that calling. But by resorting to spin he let down more than “some brave military men and women.”
How does Auletta know Brian Williams believes that journalism is a noble calling? And... "more transparent than the politicians we cover" sounds like a damned low standard. I'm not sure Auletta even believes journalism is a noble calling.

"And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition..."

"... people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."

Said Obama, causing some anti-Obamists to get on their high horse. 

"If I ever referred to my mother as 'she,' my grandfather would ask, 'who's she?' as it was considered disrespectful."

"Well, I carried on this tradition. One day, in frustration, my son yelled, 'I don't see what you have against pronouns!' Just made me giggle."

Said a commenter in a Facebook thread about one man's Wikipedia crusade over a fine point of English usage ("Man's Wikipedia Edits Mostly Consist Of Deleting 'Comprised Of'").

Would you carry on the grandfather's tradition? If you did, and at some point your son yelled in frustration "I don't see what you have against pronouns!," would you giggle... or stand tough in your husbandly requirement of respect for his wife? If you chose to maintain seriousness, how might you explore your child's professed inability to see why you found it disrespectful?

I think a very interesting conversation with the child could proceed from inquiring into whether he really can't understand the objection, and I'd be willing at some point to analyze why the yelled remark is a joke and to extract a useful joke-construction rule: Act like the topic under discussion is more general than we know it is.

"A Japanese man is accused of posing as a doctor and sexually assaulting 'around 100 women' who thought they were participating in a sleep study. "

"... He was arrested after one of the women he allegedly attacked found a video of herself online."

"While mindfulness-based approaches for children have become popular in recent years, few are backed by rigorous scientific evidence."

"The [University of Wisconsin-Madison] research team... set out to change that."
The team developed a curriculum to help children between the ages of 4 and 6 years learn how to be more aware of themselves and others through practices that encourage them to bring mindful attention to present moment experience....

Throughout the study period, trained... instructors taught the curriculum in diverse classrooms throughout the Madison area.... Each lesson provided students and teachers the opportunity to participate in mindfulness practices, including activities focused on compassion and gratitude, and to take note of their experience.

For example, kids were encouraged to think about people who are helpful to them – sometimes those they may not know well, like the bus driver — and to reflect on the role these people play in their lives....

Teachers reported one of the kids’ favorite activities was a practice called “Belly Buddies,” in which they listened to music while lying on their backs, a small stone resting on their stomachs. They were asked to notice the sensation of the stone, and to feel it rising and falling as they breathed in and out.
It's important to develop the science of providing children with these important life skills. Otherwise, teaching "mindfulness" and meditation is the sloppy importation of religion into the classroom, and that doesn't belong in public school.

February 5, 2015

"Women have much to tell us in today’s society... Women are able to ask questions that men can’t understand."

"Sometimes we’re too macho, and we don’t leave enough room for women."

Said the Pope.

"Pentagon thinktank claims Putin has Asperger's – has Putinology gone too far?"

"[T]he studies, which focused on videos of the Russian president... are primarily the brainchild of one person, Brenda Connors of the US Naval War College (USNWC) in Newport, Rhode Island. Connors, a 'movement patterns analysis' expert, is a former State Department official and professional dancer who has been described, by a psychologist from the University of Chicago, as a 'dancer and diplomat.'"

In Oregon, owls are stealing people's hats.

"It was kind of amazing how it just swooped down and grabbed my hat like that... It just pulled it right off my head like it was nothing!”

Old pictures: 2 faces, one of which might be recognizable.

Russian Revolution

This is another one of my scans of photographs I took in 1980/81 of the plastered-over walls in or around SoHo in NYC.

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"Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?"

A short paper by my Wisconsin colleague Jason Yackee:
The current "law school crisis" poses a number of serious challenges to the legal academy, and how law schools should respond is hotly debated. One common suggestion is that law schools should reform their curriculum to emphasize the development of practical skills through experiential learning, rather than emphasize what is described as the impractical, theory- and doctrine-heavy book learning of the traditional law school curriculum. Employers are said to be more likely to hire those with substantial skills training. This paper provides a simple empirical examination of that basic hypothesis. To summarize the paper's key finding: there is no statistical relationship between law school opportunities for skills training and JD employment outcomes. In contrast, employment outcomes do seem to be strongly related to law school prestige.
Orin Kerr discusses the paper here, saying: "I’ll be interested to see how other empirical legal studies scholars respond to the paper, and whether they think its conclusions hold up."

Paul Caron notes the paper here, where a reader observes that some schools cook the numbers by hiring many of their own students so they report them as employed, and Jason responds in the comments.

AND: Instapundit says: "It's Potemkin diplomas all the way down."

ALSO: Here's Elie Mystal at Above the Law:

Why did Scott Walker attack the University of Wisconsin's century-old "Wisconsin Idea" slogan/mission?

"On the one hand, the Wisconsin Idea is a relic of Progressive-Era gasbaggery. The idea that the Wisconsin public university system could reach its fingers into every corner of the state was cooked up by university leaders like Charles Van Hise when he wasn’t trying to rid the state of 'defectives' through the practice of eugenics. In the past 100 years, anyone who rightly criticized any wasteful practices at the UW were met by howls of 'but the Wisconsin Idea!,' as if the mere invocation of the term constituted the last word. On the other hand, the Wisconsin Idea is a pleasant, optimistic goal. With the Wisconsin Idea as its guiding principle, the UW-Madison has become a world class public university.Further, discovering and disseminating knowledge, stimulating society by developing heightened cultural, intellectual, and humane sensitivities, and public service to improve the human condition are all wonderful things. And if it brings pride to those who work for or attend the university that those things set the UW apart from other public universities, then great. Which is why when Gov. Scott Walker decided to strike portions of the university’s mission statement and add sections of his own, it came off as a really weird fight to pick. For instance, Walker struck the portion of the statement that says, 'Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.' Should the university be researching more lies?"

Writes Christian Schneider on a topic I feel compelled to explore in greater depth, but I haven't got time right now, so I'll just say, in answer to that last question above that the statement — "Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth" — is itself a lie. Of course, it's politically weird, to cross out truth, but that statement about truth is a lie. So if you really, seriously, wanted to be meticulous about truth, you would cross out that lie about truth.

But who can be that meticulous in political discourse? Not Scott Walker. And not the university that must inspire and retain the confidence of the people of the state. Inspiring the people of the state to care about us and love us and support us, we obviously have a purpose to which the search for truth is not basic — a purpose that we serve by asserting that truth is basic to all of our purposes.

The unfairness of the WaPo headline "Scholars rank Kerry dead last in terms of effectiveness."

See the problems?
Foreign Policy magazine this week announced the results of its 2014 Ivory Tower survey of 1,615 international relations scholars from 1,375 U.S. colleges.

One question they were asked was: “Who was the most effective U.S. secretary of state of the past 50 years?... [D]ead last, is John Kerry. He also got a total of only five votes and tied Eagleburger’s 0.31 percent, but the magazine lists him at 13th.
The first problem is that he's only tied for last place. That's not dead last. Obviously, he's listed after Eagleburger because the convention is to use alphabetical order in the case of a tie.

The second problem is that it's only the last 50 years. 

The third problem — the one that bugs me — is that the scholars were only asked to cast a vote for first place. I'd say that last place only makes him the least likely to be regarded as the most effective. If the question were Who was the most average U.S. secretary of state of the past 50 years?, perhaps he'd have come in first. And if it had been Who was the least effective U.S. secretary of state of the past 50 years?, the most votes might very well have come to rest on someone who got a lot of first-place votes on the most effective question.
Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton tied for fourth at 8.70 percent.
I suspect that John Kerry got so few most effective votes, because the kind of scholars who might have voted for him chose Madeleine Albright or Hillary Clinton instead. If the question had been least effective, I suspect that Hillary Clinton would have been at least 4th on that list too.

Did the NYT "sexualize children" or just reference the title of Patti Smith's memoir?

Instapundit links — with the jab "Propriety is for the little people" — to some breathless shaming by Ira Stoll under the heading "Times Sexualizes Children":
"Just Kids" is the headline on a New York Times "T" magazine photo spread featuring a model on her back on a half-bare mattress on the floor. The text with the picture asserts that "virginal white lace paired with leather and suede evokes the sexy decadence..." 
Dot dot dot. What is elided after "sexy decadence"? ".... of Patti Smith’s punk-rock days..."

"Just Kids" is the title of Smith's National Book Award winning memoir about her starving-artist days in New York City with Robert Mapplethorpe. They considered themselves "just kids," but they were in their early 20s.

Now, there may be a whiff of underage-sex to the NYT photo spread, the NYT may have consciously (or unconsciously) sought to titillate readers with the word "kids," and if some conservative had somehow produced the same pictures and text liberals would have gone in for the kill, BUT you cannot convincingly or intelligently make that argument without acknowledging the Patti Smith title!

AND: Eliding Patti Smith looks like deliberate distortion.

ALSO: The models don't look at all like children or even like teenagers below the age of consent. And we refer to adults with words like "kid," "boy," "girl," and even "baby" all the time. Next time some man refers to a woman as his "girlfriend," why not accuse him of pedophilia? I mean, if you'd like to be regarded as insane. Now, calm down and listen to that paean to pedophilia great love song "Be My Baby." Or, here's a Slate article about the 1909 pop song "I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife—But Oh! You Kid!"
The appeal of “Oh, You Kid!” lay mainly in that slangy endearment, “kid.” Like another novel usage of the period, “baby,” “kid” held a hint of pillow-talk intimacy—a frisson that was enhanced by the threat to “scold” the kid who fails to deliver a quick kiss.

AND: One of the most-loved lines in the history of cinema is "Here's looking at you, kid." Humphrey Bogart was not infantilizing Ingrid Bergman.

"Not much annoys me more than the stereotype that to be liberal is to be full of guilt."

"To be socially liberal, in my view, is to be more mindful of compassion and empathy for others. On the basis of that compassion we choose to make lifestyle choices (taking public transport, boycotting Nestle, going vegetarian, donating to charity for example) and do our bit. But given that humans are full of contradiction between what they should do and what they want to do, there is always some conflict."

Wrote Sunny Hundal in a 2007 Guardian article titled "The guilt-free liberal." I'm looking into the topic of "liberal guilt" after my post earlier this morning in which I rejected Power Line's "liberal guilt" theory of why Brian Williams lied. I said:
I've spent decades deeply embedded among liberals and guilt just doesn't seem to be the central force in their psychology. "Liberal guilt" is some kind of meme among conservatives, and it doesn't resonate for me.
Meade questioned "Is 'liberal guilt' a conservative meme?" That got me searching. My report from decades of embedding amongst the liberals is that liberals think they are good, not bad. They feel like repositories of virtue — "mindful of compassion and empathy for others," as Hundal put it. They tend to guilt-trip conservatives, who are regarded as lacking compassion and empathy.

Meade and I also got into a conversation about the difference between "guilt" and "shame," which would take me a long time to pursue in a blog post, so I'll just quickly recall the anti-Walker protesters who endlessly shouted "Shame! Shame!" Conservatives were supposed to be ashamed of not caring enough about the plight of the unionized public employees. These protesters evinced no shame or guilt about themselves. They seemed to feel ultra-righteous.


That photograph of mine first appeared in a March 2011 post titled "Shame, shame, shame. Where is the shame?" ("Is it in wearing a gray hoodie under a tailored blazer, a little black derby hat, and a smelled-a-fart expression while carrying a pre-printed 'SHAME' sign when the guy marching after you is wearing a windbreaker and carrying a handmade 'TAX the RICH' sign?..."). "Shame!" — by the way — was #5 on my 2012 list of "Top 5 Wisconsin Protests That In Retrospect Sound Like Pro-Walker Protests Against the Protests."

Anyway, back to "liberal guilt." If you Google "liberal guilt," the top hit is a Wikipedia article, but it's not an article titled "Liberal guilt," it's an article titled "White guilt." And the second hit is a 2008 Slate article titled "In Praise of Liberal Guilt." The subtitle says a lot about what made the term "liberal guilt" go viral among conservatives: "It's not wrong to favor Obama because of race."
If you Google "liberal guilt" and "Obama," among the nearly 32,000 hits you get are a syndicated Charles Krauthammer column under the headline "Obama's Speech Plays On Liberal Guilt" [dead link, but this might be the column]; a Mark Steyn post [dead link] on the National Review Online that describes "a Democrat nominating process that's a self-torturing satire of upscale liberal guilt confusions" ; a column by self-styled "crunchy con" Rod Dreher, who suggests [dead link] the mainstream media coverage of Obama indicates that "liberal guilt will work [on them] like kryptonite." Even liberals make fun of liberal guilt. A couple of years ago, Salon coyly proposed [dead link] supplementing the Oscars with the Liberal Guilt Awards and awarding political dramas with "Guilties."
My working theory is that "liberal guilt" got traction as a race-neutral way to accuse people of voting for Obama out of "white guilt" and that the term metastasized into a way to impugn any liberal policy with the idea that it is not rational but emanating from someplace emotional. Of course, those who recast liberal guilt as compassion and empathy are conceding that their predilections come from an emotional place, but they are proud of that, not guilty (or ashamed). Many conservatives react to this prideful confession of emotion by asserting that conservative ideas come straight from the rational mind unclouded by emotion. In my view, that's the most emotive position of all, and I would recommend that conservatives present their ideas as grounded in compassion and empathy, as — obviously — some of them do.

Respect the reality show and be a cynic about Bruce Jenner.

In a NYT column with the sententious title "Bruce Jenner’s Courage," Nicholas Kristof writes:
Cynics might say that his television plans are more about self-promotion than leadership. All I know is that Jenner seems to be preparing for a bold public mission involving something intensely personal, in a way that should open minds and hearts.
Count me among the cynics. Jenner is deeply embedded in the immense and profitable business of making reality shows. You know, the show title "Keeping Up the Kardashians" is absolutely perfect. People actually do have trouble keeping up! The Kardashians are way out in front. I think the best strategy is to take a different route and not tag after them huffing and puffing. You look like a fool!

Here's a good interview with Kris Kardashian Jenner (on Alec Baldwin's podcast "Here's the Thing"). Listen to this and I think you will respect the enterprise of making a big hit reality show.

And by "respect" I do not mean want to watch. I mean: understand that this is a decathlon-level competition and you cannot keep up. I cannot keep up with whether Bruce Jenner is transgender, and I will not be roped into the publicity for a new reality show.

Brian Williams lied and he's still lying... but why?

Power Line's John Hinderaker details why it had to be a lie from the start and why Williams's effort to cover his lie now can only be more lying:
Confronted with the facts, Williams recanted and apologized, chalking up his repeated error to the “fog of memory” after 12 years. No one is buying Williams’s apology, for several reasons: 1) it wasn’t 12 years ago when he started telling the story, but shortly after the event; 2) whether your helicopter was or was not hit by an RPG isn’t the sort of thing you are likely to be confused about; and 3) even the apology wasn’t candid. Williams wrote that “I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG,” but failed to note that his helicopter was “behind the bird that took the RPG” by an hour.

Williams is not just an anchor, he is the Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News. Given the magnitude of the firestorm in which he has been engulfed, and the lack of any apparent defense for his mendacity, it seems inevitable that he will resign or be fired by NBC.
This is so devastating to Williams that it's hard to fathom why he did it. Wasn't it brave and honorable enough to be traveling with the military in Iraq? Isn't it braver to get on a helicopter knowing the one in front of you was hit than to happen to find yourself on one that is hit? Why lie and lie about something that you know many people are able to refute? It's so reckless and unnecessary. It makes you seem like you're a compulsive or pathological liar or you've got some strange self-destructive urge. Hinderaker's speculation is quite different from mine:
Williams used the story to burnish his credentials as a reporter; as a war correspondent; as a man.... He advanced his career... But I speculate that there was more to it than that. Often when he told the story, the context was Williams’s expression of admiration for the fighting men and women whom he got to know in Iraq.... the soldiers whom Williams got to know in Iraq work for peanuts, relatively speaking.... [T]he kind of wealth that has been heaped upon Brian Williams gives rise to a phenomenon that has played much too large a part in our national life: liberal guilt. Again, this is pure speculation, but I suspect that Williams’s emotional need to portray himself (in his own mind, not just to outsiders) as someone who braved dangers, was shot at and nearly killed, was part of how he assuaged the guilt that came packaged with the hundreds of millions of dollars he has earned for doing, really, not much.
But it was dangerous to be there and to get on the helicopter when the helicopter an hour ahead of you got hit! Why pile a lie on top of that? Out of guilt? And what's liberal about that guilt? Anyone who hasn't fought in war could feel guilty that others have done more. Hinderaker has to drag in the pay differential. I guess the idea is that it's liberal guilt, because nonliberals don't feel bad about making a lot of  money. Hinderaker goes on to speculate that this liberal guilt — if it was strong enough to motivate Williams to take such a huge and stupid risk — could have infected all sorts of news stories on NBC.
How has liberal guilt shaped stories that he has written and delivered on the economy; on taxes; on wages; on corporate profits; on fiscal policy; on race relations; on affirmative action; and on many other subjects NBC News has addressed over the years? If Williams would make up bald-faced lies in one context to assuage his own liberal guilt, is it unreasonable to think that he and his NBC colleagues have passed off misrepresentations, misleading data, errors of omission and, yes, outright falsehoods in service of the liberal cause on other topics, for the same reason?
I assume there's a liberal slant to its news, but I haven't bought the "liberal guilt" theory of Williams's bizarre behavior. It could nevertheless be true that liberal guilt drives the liberalism of liberals. I've spent decades deeply embedded among liberals and guilt just doesn't seem to be the central force in their psychology. "Liberal guilt" is some kind of meme among conservatives, and it doesn't resonate for me.

ADDED: What's up with Hinderaker and semicolons? I invite speculation about the mind of conservatives.

February 4, 2015

The best kitchen...

... except....

"Instead of dicing and parsing and saying, ‘Well, what about a wife if she’s asleep?’ just look at what is happening and the prevalence of sexual assault in our world."

"It’s a tool of power. That might be why they’re parsing. They don’t want to look at what is really going on around them," said Holly Mullen of the Rape Recovery Center, inviting Republicans to topple into the political pitfall of the day: the question whether sex with an unconscious person is always, automatically rape.

Utah is considering dropping the words "has not consented" from the section of its criminal code that says it's sexual assault if "the victim has not consented and the actor knows the victim is unconscious, unaware that the act is occurring, or physically unable to resist."

It's a tempting topic, isn't it? You see how much trouble you can get into if you take this bait?

"Joe Biden is a decent guy, but man, that guy can just talk and talk... It's an incredible thing to see."

Obama once said to David Axelrod (according to David Axelrod).

Also... Obama was irked by Mitt Romney's 2012 concession phone call:
The president hung up and said Romney admitted he was surprised at his own loss, Axelrod wrote.

"'You really did a great job of getting the vote out in places like Cleveland and Milwaukee,' in other words, black people,'" Obama said, paraphrasing Romney. "That's what he thinks this was all about."

"There’s 400 headlines now that say 'Paul says vaccines cause mental disorders.' That’s not what I said."

"I said I’ve heard of people who’ve had vaccines and they see a temporal association and they believe that," said Rand Paul.
It just annoys me that I’m being characterized as someone who’s against vaccines.
The annoyed Senator was doing a photo-op, getting a Hepatitis A booster shot in the Capitol physicians office. He's right, by the way, there are lots of headlines saying that he said vaccines cause mental disorders.

I had a number of stories on the phoney-baloney kerfuffle over vaccines I might have clicked on this morning, and I'm going to confess that's the one I chose because I wanted to see the photograph of Rand Paul in his white T-shirt, with his bare arms extended. He's getting the shot in his right arm. (Is he left-handed? Yes, and so were  7 of the last 17 presidents.) Why is his right hand balled up in a fist? I thought you were supposed to relax your arm when you get a shot. Is he trying to make his arm look more muscular for people like me who were going to look at the news report for the ulterior reason of wanting to check out his physique? Will the other candidates give us that close of a look? Let's not forget the extent to which Obama exposed himself:

Obviously, that sort of thing helps. This is not just me with a mental disorder. Bill Clinton knew it and used it....

... used his wife too. Did she make an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision to engage in this mutually agreed-upon activity and was her consent ongoing throughout this behavior?

Jordan's King Abdullah, speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, quoted something Clint Eastwood said in "Unforgiven."

Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. reported from what was a private meeting:
"He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn't seen," said Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., a Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, who was in the meeting with the king. "He mentioned 'Unforgiven' and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie."

Hunter would not say which part of "Unforgiven" the king quoted, but noted it was where Eastwood's character describes how he is going to deliver his retribution. There is a scene in the picture in which Eastwood's character, William Munny, says, "Any man I see out there, I'm gonna kill him. Any son of a bitch takes a shot at me, I'm not only going to kill him, I'm going to kill his wife and all his friends and burn his damn house down."

"We truly thought it would only take a few years to remind the nation of America's secular roots, and that reason would prevail and we could get on with our lives."

Said  Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, quoted in an Isthmus article with a subtitle that puzzles me: "The nation's largest group of freethinkers strives to improve the image of atheists."
This slow trickle of religion into one-prohibited places [sic] creates a slippery slope that Gaylor fears could bottom out in a full-blown theocratic society. Fundamentalist Protestant groups and Roman Catholics are the top offenders pushing for a government governed by God, she says.

"These denominations may invoke state-church separation by crying it's being violated when they don't like a government action, such as Obamacare's contraception mandate," she says. "But they essentially believe in theocracy and believe their religious dogma should be legislated in our laws. They want to tell the government what to do so it conforms to their doctrines."
Is "freethinker" a term of art? I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and found a single definition: "A person who professes to or is known for independence of thought, esp. one who withholds assent to widely held beliefs or ideas; spec. a person who refuses to submit his or her reason to the control of authority in matters of religious belief; (chiefly with capital initials) any of the rationalists, prominent from the early 18th cent., who rejected Christianity on the grounds of reason (now hist.)." Among the historical examples of the usage of this word:
1708   Swift Sentiments Church of Eng.-man i, in Misc. (1711) 100   The Atheists, Libertines, Despisers of Religion..that is to say, all those who usually pass under the Name of Free-Thinkers....
1836   H. Smith Tin Trumpet I. 227   Freethinker..has come to be synonymous with a libertine and a contemner of religion....
1968   A. J. Ayer Humanist Outlook 4   Present-day humanists are in fact the intellectual heirs of those nineteenth-century free-thinkers.

The biggest idea in Scott Walker's 2015 State Budget Address: expanding the school choice program.

MacIver Institute — "The Free Market Voice for Wisconsin" — describes it:
[A] new statewide school choice program... would allow students throughout Wisconsin to attend the private school of their choice through a state-funded voucher. It will run alongside — and prospectively sunset - the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, (WPCP) which was created in 2013 but limited to only 1,000 students per year. However, the new, as-of-yet-unnamed voucher program would have one major difference from the current statewide system.

These new vouchers will only be made available to students who are currently attending public schools — a caveat that allays concerns that the majority of WPCP students had previously attended private schools before accepting state funds. These students must come from families that earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty limit - $44,122.50 for a family of four last year. Any private school wishing to accept voucher students would also have to consent to the state's school accountability program and receive grades through the Department of Public Instruction's (DPI) School Report Card formula.
Erin Richards — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education columnist — writes:
Walker's plans to expand and change the funding mechanism of the statewide private voucher school program... would cause major waves in the state's public school systems, which have faced an onslaught of reforms in recent years, both financially and academically....

State Superintendent Tony Evers noted the governor's budget offered no increase in the revenue limit for public schools, which is the total amount districts can raise per pupil in state aid and property taxes.

"That's huge," he said. "Schools are at the breaking point."

Betsy Kippers, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, called unbridled expansion of the statewide private school voucher program "egregious."
Richards also notes Walker's plan to "make it easier for anyone with a bachelor's degree and real-world experience to get a license to become a middle or high school teacher" and quotes Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, accusing Walker of "gutting licensure requirements."

We watched Walker's budget address on TV (using the DVR to simultaneously watch the Badgers beat the Hoosiers). I asked Meade what he thought of the budget address, and he said: "I liked it. It was nice and short." I asked him about the basketball game and he said more things than I could transcribe and I can't remember a single one.

February 3, 2015

Columbia Student says he didn't rape that mattress-carrying protester who's been getting so much press.

The Daily Beast has the story.

Creepy email subject line from the Democratic Party: "I don't see your name on this list, Ann."

Quite aside from creepiness, there's the flat-out lying: a "personalized, official Democratic Party membership card... will be a pretty cool thing to have."

"Woman with kangaroo asked to leave McDonald's/Woman claimed kangaroo was service animal."

The news from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

Is Harper Lee finally publishing a second novel?

You might be seeing headlines that give the impression that the 88-year-old author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" has another novel at long last, but...
The recently discovered book, “Go Set a Watchman,” was completed in the mid-1950s.... It takes place 20 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird.”... The 304-page novel takes place in the same fictional town, Maycomb, Ala., and unfolds as Scout Finch, the feisty child heroine of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” returns to visit her father, Atticus.

Ms. Lee said in a statement released by her publisher that her editor at the time was taken with Scout’s childhood flashbacks, and told her to write a different novel from Scout’s perspective. “I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told,” Ms. Lee, 88, a native of Monroeville, Ala., said in the statement.
It seems that the 2 books are drafts of the same book! The editor advised Lee on how to write a leaner, more exciting book, and she did it. Now, we're to be given the opportunity to read the longer version within which the "To Kill a Mockingbird" story is told in flashbacks. It's interesting to get the original version of the very widely read and loved book, but why portray it as Lee's "second novel"?

ADDED: Megan Garber writes in The Atlantic "Harper Lee: The Sadness of a Sequel":
... Harper Lee... spent the majority of her life not wanting Go Set a Watchman to be published... At one point, Lee's sister (and companion and caretaker and sometime legal adviser), known publicly as Miss Alice, claimed that a burglar had stolen the manuscript of Mockingbird’s spectral sequel...

Perhaps it really was as simple as a manuscript lost and recovered, serendipitously for all involved. Perhaps all those doubts Lee had previously expressed about the publication of a second novel were merely the expressions of the natural, but not invincible, anxiety that comes with that infamously fraught project....

Or perhaps, having witnessed the rise of what Boris Kachka calls the “Mockingbird industrial complex” from afar, the writer wanted to bring a renewed kind of intimacy to her work.... Or perhaps Lee, alive but ill, is being treated in the way so many deceased authors are: as ideas rather than people, as brands and businesses rather than messy collections of doubts and desires.

"Why Matt Drudge might be more powerful now than ever before."

WaPo's Chris Cillizza explains. Excerpt:
Drudge (and his small crew of editors) use the influence of the site to push what they believe to be overlooked stories within a campaign. And... Drudge tends to have a storyline (or two) that he grasps onto and stays with for weeks or months. In 2008 (and 2012) that was how Romney was stronger than many people gave him credit.... So far in this cycle, Drudge has been hard on Bush (highlighting lots of stories that suggest the former Florida governor isn't all that conservative) and quite kind to Walker. Here's the current lead of the site:

If Drudge continues to push Walker, it will matter in terms of how the Wisconsin governor is regarded by Republican politicos. Ditto Bush — although to a lesser extent because Bush is such a known commodity in Republican circles. (Ask any nascent campaign for the GOP nomination whether having Drudge "like" them matters. If they say anything but "yes," they are lying.)

"Pictures published on ISIS's official al Furqan media site apparently show Jordanian military pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh being burned alive..."

"... while confined in a cage."

"I always told him afterwards that if it had been a Catholic marriage, it could have been declared null."

"Because he wasn’t really [committed], because she started with the bulimia and everything before the wedding."

Stop pestering groundhogs!

Possibly what "Jimmy" the groundhog was thinking when the mayor of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin put his ear next to the mouth of the little beast, who proceeded to take a brisk chomp.

9th paragraph in the NYT exposé "In Christie’s Career, a Fondness for Luxe Benefits When Others Pay the Bills."

"Mr. Christie is hardly the first politician, in either party, whose embrace of luxury travel has prompted criticism. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, a potential Democratic candidate for president, is known for her dependence on private planes often paid for by others."

"The state doesn't own our children. Parents own the children."

Said Rand Paul, asked whether parents should be forced to vaccinate their children.
I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing. But I think the parent should have some input... Public awareness of how good vaccines are for kids and how they are good for public health is a great idea... I don't think there is anything extraordinary about resorting to freedom.
Watch the video for the point where he drops in this line...
I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines....
... and severely undercuts his message that vaccines are a good idea. That's going to jump right out and scare the bejeezus out of parents who haven't accepted vaccines.

I got to that link via a NYT article about how "[t]he politics of medicine, morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over vaccines and the government’s place in requiring them, posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters." That article goes through the differing positions of various GOP candidates. Reading those positions, I think it's clear what the safest one is:
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, also a possible 2016 candidate, was asked on Sunday about vaccinations on the ABC News program “This Week,” and insisted that the science was clear and convincing. “Study after study has shown that there are no negative long-term consequences,” he said. “And the more kids who are not vaccinated, the more they’re at risk and the more they put their neighbors’ kids at risk as well.”
Hey! Wait a minute! I went to the link to the "This Week" transcript and those quotes are all from Dr. Thomas Friedman, the CDC Director! Scott Walker was interviewed on that show, but the topic of vaccines didn't come up. Is the NYT trying to help Scott Walker seem like the sensible middle-of-the-road guy here... or is it just screwing up?

Anyway, I think it would be good for GOP candidates to say something like what Dr. Friedman said and Scott Walker hasn't said (yet). Stick to the strength of the science and the reasons for getting vaccinations. Steer away from the subject of forced vaccinations — unless you're making a conscious choice to get onto the libertarian track and say "The state doesn't own our children. Parents own the children." (Is that the libertarian track — children owned by parents? Owned or not — we do need to trust parents with their children, but few of us will trust parents completely.)

UPDATE: The NYT has now corrected the misattributed quote. 

Obama "envisions a nearly half-trillion-dollar transportation construction spree... to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and ports by imposing new taxes on overseas earnings by American companies.

"The six-year, $478 billion infrastructure plan would provide a 33 percent increase in funding for big, new public works projects," the NYT reports.

Quite aside from the problem of new taxes on business, what bothers me here is that Obama's old and extremely expensive "stimulus" package — back in '09 — was presented as a transformation of the "infrastructure" — with lots of talk of roads and bridges — but where are all those improvements we were gulled into thinking we were getting for our money?

"Doctors don’t know why more women, and in particular more young women, are opting for breast reductions."

"Some studies suggest that people are reaching puberty earlier, and the obesity epidemic is affecting breast size, [says Brian Labow, the director of the Adolescent Breast Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital]. 'And then there’s the whole environmental estrogen story,' he adds.  Environmental estrogens, often called xenoestrogens, are substances that mimic the hormone our bodies naturally produce, which is known to influence breast size. These chemicals are often found in pesticides, plastics, and meat from animals that have been given steroid hormone drugs to speed up growth. 'Is there estrogen in our soy? Is there estrogen in our various food products, chicken or cows? Are we putting in artificial or synthetic estrogen? I really don’t know.'"

From "The Rise of the Teenage Breast Reduction" in The Atlantic.

Xenoestrogens and macromastia might seem like a minor or non- problem, but it's something that is noticed. What are the less-noticed effects? And what about men (or what's left of men, after all that xenoestrogen)?

Federal appellate courts mark 88% of their opinions as "unpublished," meaning that they are not to be regarded as precedent...

... even though we can see these opinions, so they are, literally, published. Adam Liptak, who writes about the Supreme Court in the NYT, notes a recent "unpublished" 4th Circuit opinion that Justices Thomas and Scalia wanted to review:
“True enough, the decision below is unpublished and therefore lacks precedential force in the Fourth Circuit,” Justice Thomas wrote. “But that in itself is yet another disturbing aspect of the Fourth Circuit’s decision, and yet another reason to grant review.”
I don't think judges have the power to designate their opinions as lacking in power as precedent (though they're certainly capable of saying in advance that they don't find their own opinions worth much). I could go into more detail about the nature of judicial power, but this is a blog post, and I'll get right to something Liptak wrote that caught my attention:

February 2, 2015

"Welp, So Much for Young People," says Josh Marshall...

... observing that these kids today may be "more pro-gay rights, more racially inclusive and generally have more progressive political views on a host of issues," but he abandons his erstwhile hope for the new generation because "a lot of these youngs seem to be complete a complete disaster [sic] on vaccination."
As you can see [from this poll], for older Americans, support for mandatory immunizations is overwhelming. And it just got lower and lower and lower the younger you go - with what looks like a steep turning points somewhere in the mid-30s....

I think the reality is that society seems to has lost the historical memory of various horrific endemic childhood diseases.
Welp, my first question was how old is Josh Marshall. The internet says:

Welp, I'm a whole generation older than that, and the measles vaccination only goes back to 1963, 6 years before Josh was born and a dozen years after I was born. I don't know what Josh Marshall means by the "historical memory" of the "horrific endemic childhood disease" that is measles, but I remember when everyone got measles. It was part of childhood. We all got measles, and then we were all immune. I don't remember it being horrific. Marshall's memory is of getting a vaccination to prevent it, and that was completely the norm in his time, but in my time, we accepted measles, got sick, with spots, and then got better. It wasn't that big of a deal. I think people should get their kids vaccinated, and I got my sons vaccinated, but the question is whether parents who seriously believe they're saving their kids from something else that they think is horrific need to be forced by the government, rather than convinced by good science and benevolent persuasion, and Josh Marshall's hysteria isn't modeling rationality and sound persuasion. And his giving up on young people — because their idea of the good skews away from government force — isn't very pretty.

Scott Walker is the clear frontrunner in Drudge's poll.

Vote here.

Walker's proportion has gone from 43% over the course of the day to 47%, which I assume is partly because of the promotion of Drudge saying he is the frontrunner. That last 4% is (I'm guessing) the combined effect of: 1. increased name recognition, and 2. you just want to be on the side that's winning.

ADDED: Of course, Drudge's poll is not scientific! No need to tell me that. Here. I'll do a poll too. Have at it:

Your vote for the GOP presidential nominee:
pollcode.com free polls

6 Californians taste test Wisconsin foods.

Slate's advice columnist Emily Yoffe fails even to see being a homemaker as an option.

A 26-year-old woman writes and describes her preference for life as a homemaker. She doesn't use the word "homemaker" or "housewife," but those are the old-fashioned terms for what the woman is describing. She's given up a career as a social worker, can't find any other career that interests her, and:
I'm happiest in my quiet home, cleaning and making beautiful meals for my partner. I walk my dog, go to the gym, volunteer cleaning up a local forest and do things that promote tranquility. He makes enough at a tech firm to support the both of us, but I am paying my share of bills with my meager savings.... Is it wrong to ask my partner to support my quiet at-home life for the sake of my mental health?
This woman portrays her plight as a "mental heath" issue. She pathologizes her desire for the kind of life women were once criticized for not wanting. It's worth exploring this woman's possible mental problems, but why doesn't Yoffe even recognize the possibility that the single-earner household with a home-based partner is a beautiful, legitimate arrangement?

How hard is it to fire a public school teacher in New York?

This hard.

Note that only 1% of teachers are rated unsatisfactory, this teacher was rated unsatisfactory 6 years in a row, and the city went through a 16-day hearing trying to terminate her $84,500-a-year employment.

"There has never been a Catholic Republican nominee for the White House (the Mormons, interestingly, got there first), although there may be one this year..."

"... with a field that includes Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush, who converted to Catholicism, his wife’s faith, some twenty years ago. For them, the issue is not one of religious bigotry, such as John F. Kennedy faced in his 1960 campaign, with insinuations of adherence to secret Papist instructions. In a way, it’s the opposite: the very public agenda of the all too authentic Pope Francis. Early signs of trouble came in the summer of 2013, when the new Pope, speaking with reporters about gays in the Church, asked, 'Who am I to judge?' The conservative wing of the Party had relied on his predecessors to do just that...."

From "God and the G.O.P." by Amy Davidson in The New Yorker.

"Everyone agrees: Katy Perry’s dancing sharks were definitely the best part of the Super Bowl halftime show..."

"No matter who you are, Katy Perry’s sharks just get you."

"It is an indisputable fact that carbon emissions are rising—and faster than most scientists predicted."

"But many climate-change alarmists seem to claim that all climate change is worse than expected. This ignores that much of the data are actually encouraging. The latest study from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that in the previous 15 years temperatures had risen 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit. The average of all models expected 0.8 degrees. So we’re seeing about 90% less temperature rise than expected."

So begins Bjorn Lomberg's WSJ piece "The Alarming Thing About Climate Alarmism/Exaggerated, worst-case claims result in bad policy and they ignore a wealth of encouraging data."

"So why do people take umbrage at Facebook deserters?"

"Friending someone creates an unwritten social contract that two people agree to 'like' each other’s updates and shower each other with attention," according to somebody quoted in a Market Watch article titled "Your Facebook ‘cult’ won’t let you quit," which Meade — who's never joined Facebook — just texted me.

The dead-children ad that cast a pall over the Super Bowl.

"By freezing my eggs, I did not become any more or less likely to have things work out the way I hope they will."

"What has changed is my relationship to that fact. Now I enjoy the late, lingering dinner with the guy whom I have great chemistry with, even if there is no future with him. Now I end a relationship at the first whiff of ambivalence, without giving a thought to whether I could contort myself in such a way that could make it work. I blame myself a little less often for the workings of a chaotic and imperfect reality. It is a more advanced version of the decision I made at 32 — to take a risk, to know that I was okay, to believe in my right to desire more for myself, to desire anything at all."

From "The Real Reason Women Freeze Their Eggs," by Jillian Dunham.

"Tipping as an American practice stretches back centuries. 'There are records of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson giving tips to their slaves'..."

"... said Michael Lynn, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, who has studied changes in tipping habits. In the 1940s, he said, the average restaurant tip was about 10 percent. 'It’s very clear that tip sizes have increased over time,' he said, adding that he could not predict how high they would go."

From a NYT article titled "$3 Tip on a $4 Cup of Coffee? Gratuities Grow, Automatically."

So iPads are being used these days to prompt customers to give huge tips, but I was interested in the history of tipping and the tipping of slaves. I found "The Private Life of George Washington's Slaves":

What's wrong with the CNN headline "Huckabee compares being gay to drinking, swearing"?

My first post today is about my struggle with the Sunday morning talk shows. I watch to blog, so I want the transcript. I said I record 4 of the shows, and, now, getting ready to blog this CNN headline, I realizethat  there's a 5th Sunday morning show, and I never watch it. It's CNN's "State of the Union."

Fortunately, the complete transcript is available, so we can look at exactly what Mike Huckabee said and why there's something wrong with the headline:
DANA BASH: [Y]ou do write very eloquently about it being a religious conviction to oppose to -- oppose gay marriage, but then you also talk about the biblical backings of being heterosexual.  So, given that, how do you kind of square that religious conviction with being open to having gay friends?

HUCKABEE: Well, people can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle.
Notice that Huckabee shifted the topic from being gay to having a lifestyle.  So right there it's obvious that he's not going to be comparing "being gay to drinking, swearing" — as the headline has it. He'll be comparing acting out on homosexual desire to acting out on a desire to consume alcohol or acting out on the urge to express oneself with profanity. These are all sins in his book, but like anybody else who has friends and believes that a lot of things are sins, he's friends with sinners.

Imagine a trial of 183 people...

... and giving them all the death penalty.

The unbloggable "Meet the Press."

I have something from yesterday's show I'd like to blog. I had something from last week's show too. I see that the transcript from last week's show was posted 2 days ago — that is, 6 days after the show aired. Meanwhile, yesterday, ABC had its "This Week" transcript posted on the very morning that the show aired. My usual routine has been to record 4 Sunday morning shows and watch them putting "Meet the Press" first and "This Week" last. I'd watch and make note of things I wanted to blog, jotting down a word to search for in the transcript. Actually, I rarely watched "This Week," because I got weary after "MTP," "Face the Nation," and "Fox News Sunday," but yesterday, I watched the Scott Walker segment of "This Week" first because I saw the transcript and video on line and bloggable before noon.

"Face the Nation" had its transcript up yesterday a little after 2 in the afternoon. Here. CBS news political correspondent John Dickerson was asked about the meaning of a new poll that put Scott Walker ahead in Iowa:
Scott Walker had a good performance in Iowa at the last weekend at the Steve King Cattle Call. He did well. That shows up in the polls. We saw this in 2012 when Michelle Bachmann had her moment; Herman Cain. It seemed every week, everybody had another moment. What Scott Walker has that those other candidates didn't have is he has a little bit of staying power. He has a quick elevator pitch, he can talk about being elected three times in a purple state and also that he took on the unions and he survived. That is what is -- you have slow burn candidates and fast burn candidates. You want to be a slow burn candidate, you want to be there at the end. What keeps him from being a fast burnout candidate is this record he's got. So that's good for him....
"Elevator pitch"? Is that an expression? Yes! (Could you sell yourself in the time you have someone stuck with you on an elevator?)

Does "Fox News Sunday" have yesterday's transcript up yet? Yes. Here. It's not a perfect transcript. Here's Chris Wallace inviting former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett to tell us why the presidential candidates who oppose common core are wrong:
Mr. Bennett, let me start with you. A number of Republicans considering Iran for president in 2016, have made opposition to common core a key issue....
Ha ha. But better an imperfect transcript than no transcript. Is it fear of a ludicrous mistake like "Iran for president" what keeps "Meet the Press" from putting words on the page? There was a time when "the press" meant putting words on the page.

February 1, 2015

Marshawn Lynch reminds Chuck Todd of Al Gore.

Elsewhere: Marshawn Lynch talks plenty while playing Mortal Kombat X with Conan O'Brien (language warning):

ADDED: Everyone was talking about Marshawn Lynch and then, at then, when it couldn't be more important, the Seahawks forgot they had him.

Snow walk.

Just now, in the neighborhood...

Old pictures: Vacant Girls.

Vacant Girls

This is the third in a series of my photographs of walls from late 1980 or early 1981 — somewhere in the Village/SoHo area of NYC.

Talk about anything you want in the comments (and, if you have to do some on-line shopping, please consider using The Althouse Amazon portal, the link for which is always up there in the blog banner).

Scott Walker: "I wouldn’t bet against me on anything."

The cocky last line of his interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC's "This Week" this morning. Read/watch the whole thing here. (Kudos to ABC for getting the transcript and video up so quickly!)

Raddatz really keeps up the pressure throughout this interview, perhaps trying to make some news by making him look dumb/unprepared/unstable the way Katie Couric tripped up Sarah Palin. But Walker held steady, speaking without hesitation and without droning on, stepping up to tough questions on Syria and immigration, and not showing any irritation at Raddatz's multiple interruptions.

"The body for women – as also happens for men – is, in a cultural and biological, symbolic and natural sense, the place of one’s own identity."

"It is the subject, means, space of development and expression of the self, the place rationality, psychology, imagination, natural functionality and ideal tensions converge. The feminine body, then, is a filter of communication with others, in a continuous and inevitable exchange between individuals and contexts. So the feminine identity is the point of convergence of daily fragility, of vulnerability, mutability, and multiplicity between emotive interior life and exterior physicality. Plastic surgery can be counted as one of the many manipulations of the body that explore its limits with respect to the concept of identity. A specificity that is placed under so much stress in the contemporary world as to provoke pathologies (dysmorphophobia, eating disorders, depression...) or 'amputate' the expressive possibilities of the human face which are so connected to the empathic abilities. Plastic surgery that is not medico-therapeutic can be aggressive toward the feminine identity, showing a refusal of the body in as much as it is a refusal of the 'season' that is being lived out. If the body is the place of truth of the feminine self, in the indispensable mixture of culture and biology, it is also the place of the 'betrayal' of this truth. The indiscriminate and undifferentiated use that the media and communications industry has applied in all its forms, in advertising (sexual allusion and debasement of its role), is undeniable proof. No political or social battle has been able to do without a mechanism so profoundly rooted as that of the exploitation of the female body for commercial benefit."

From the "Outline document for the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome 4-7 February 2015: WOMEN’S CULTURES: EQUALITY AND DIFFERENCE. (PDF.)

"Scott Walker and Rand Paul are ahead of the GOP pack in Iowa..."

"... while Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz are lagging behind at single digits, according to a new [Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register] poll [of  Republican caucus-goers] released Saturday."
Bush’s ratings were just above water, with 46 percent of respondents saying they view him favorably and 43 percent unfavorably.... Christie’s unfavorability rating is even worse at 54 percent...

Walker, meanwhile, has catapulted to the head of the field, with a commanding 60 percent of respondents giving him positive marks (up from 49 percent in October) and 12 percent offering a negative take (essentially unchanged from three months ago). The Wisconsin governor, one of the few contenders whose appeal spans the establishment and social conservative wings of the party, gave a well-received speech to Iowa conservatives last weekend.
More here: "Walker Surging in Iowa Poll as Bush Struggles."
“A majority think [Walker]’s got the right balance between conservative and moderate,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of West Des Moines-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. “Caucus-goers deciding on the basis of a candidate's values put him in second place, and he's in first place with those who say electability is more important.”...

“I like what he did to Wisconsin, and I think he'd be great at getting rid of a bunch of stuff that the government is doing to us,” said Kerri Vaughn, a carpenter from western Iowa who has followed Walker's career mostly on Fox News. “He seems like he means what he says, and does what he says and is an honorable man.”
I think 90% of the people within a 30 mile radius of where I am sitting right now are flummoxed/boiling/despairing over the way the man they've been hating for the last 4 years is being received in the state across the river. That's not a scientific poll, just a poll of my feelings from my desk at the center of The Oasis of Self-Perceived Sanity that is Madison, Wisconsin.

"It wasn't the hardware he was after when the season began..."

"... but the award Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers received Saturday night at the NFL Honors event solidified his place among the league's all-time best."

"In 1930s Kuwait, an accusation that a restaurant was serving cat meat might easily have ended badly for the owner."

"But in one case British diplomats decided it was a matter for the Crown - and rode to the rescue of the unlucky man...."

"The 2015 baby Jesus catalog features a dozen glossy pages of options.... If you're in need of money, you might dress your infant in the aqua blue 'Prosperity Baby Jesus' outfit."

"If you're feeling ill, you could try the red and gold 'Health' gown. If there's drama in your life, your best bet is probably the 'Peace' frock, which comes in white and blue, with a miniature dove."

Dolls and doll clothes, for sale in L.A. — described in the L.A. Times. Described patronizingly, in my view.

"Oh, good, brave, strong dog!"

Meade and Zeus on frozen Lake Wingra, yesterday evening.

"Syrian people (have been) suffering for three years and a half. It's enough.... So I would like to get the story of what ISIS wants to do."

Said Kenji Goto, 47, last fall, leaving his 2 daughters and wife in Japan, to report from Syria.

What ISIS wanted to do and did was behead him — on camera, with a message to Japan (Abe =  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe):
"Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found... So let the nightmare for Japan begin."

The Atlantic instructs Iran on the difference between cartoons depicting Muhammad and cartoons about the Holocaust.

Here's "The Hypocrisy of Iran's Holocaust Cartoon Contest/The regime's response to Charlie Hebdo was intended to highlight Western hypocrisy regarding free speech. Instead, it casts a spotlight on the growing problem of anti-Semitism."

And, of course, this article isn't really a lecture aimed at Iran. The argument has no power — I assume — to persuade Iran that that there are 2 different kinds of speech, that one can tout free-speech values about one and not the other, and it's hypocrisy to regard the 2 kinds of speech as the same. It's an argument aimed at those of us who support free speech and think it's hypocrisy not to protect the offense to religion and hate speech and lies about history.
[W]hile Holocaust denial didn't begin with Iran, Tehran's contribution to the practice has been especially shameful... Iran's Holocaust cartoon contest arrives amid worsening anti-Semitism across Europe.... The Iranians who organized the cartoon contest believe that shunning Holocaust denial means Western commitment to free speech is shallow. The real hypocrisy, though, is that by the deliberate offense of the world's Jewish population, the cartoonists are mocking a group that in many ways is as threatened and marginalized as they are.
Charlie Hebdo deliberated offended Muslims, so how is Iran hypocritical to "mocking a group that in many ways is as threatened and marginalized as [Muslims] are? I don't see an argument based on hypocrisy. I see an (undeveloped) argument that Muslims ought to identify with Jews.

ADDED: What would it take to develop that identification argument? How would you paraphrase what the Atlantic writer, Matt Schiavenza, is saying to Muslims? It's something I hesitate to put into words.